For a while now, we've been aware of an unreleased keyboard theme, shown off in screenshots of Google Chrome on the Play Store. Today, the Android 5.0 Lollipop developer preview brought us Google Keyboard 4.0 that carries both the Material Light and Dark themes. There's really not much to say about the themes that can't be communicated in images - they are similar to the keyboard included in the original dev preview, but now there's a light theme.
We always talk about the customizability of Android, but most of us never really put it to the test. Sure, we might change the theme on our keyboards or replace some homescreen icons, but when is the last time you changed your system font? If you're running CyanogenMod and feel like trying something a little different, treat your eyes to any of the six brand new fonts that have been packaged up for use in the CM Theme Engine.
One of the nicest things about CyanogenMod (from a cosmetic perspective, anyway) is support for hundreds and hundreds of community-baked themes on the Play Store and elsewhere. As opposed to a launcher theme or icon set, these themes are system-wide, and they can completely change the look of your phone or tablet in a few seconds. Custom ROMs often bake in a compatible theme system (see AOKP), and now the popular Paranoid Android family has done so as well.
HD Widgets is already one of the more pragmatic and attractive sources for Android widgets out there, but now it's about to get even prettier. For the big 4.0 release, the developers are prepared to introduce a new theme that's been designed for Android 4.4. And since you don't need KitKat to run it, that makes this update a nice breath of fresh air for anyone looking for a modern set of widgets displaying everything from the weather and time to battery life and toggles.
Press is an RSS reader for people who take their feeds seriously. There are no gimmicks here, no over-the-top visual elements, and there's no free version to speak of. If you want this app, you're going to have to pay $2.99 for it, and that's okay, because it's good. Version 1.5 is now available, and it brings in a selection of features that round out your reading experience. For starters, there's support for KitKat's new immersive mode.
SwiftKey's latest update won't radically alter how you type in the days ahead, but it will do its best to remind you that, baby, it's cold outside. A new winter theme is available that coats your keys in blue and covers them with snow. A cold gust of wind follows your trail as you trace over the keyboard, and the letters show up as large snowflakes as you type. The keyboard's background itself also sports a frosty design.
Google's default Android keyboard has typically emphasized simplicity over anything else, but it has picked up quite a few new nice features over the years. It now offers Swype-style gesture support out of the box, and after the latest update, you can choose what color your swipe trail and accent colors should be.
Following the Android 4.4 redesign, the Google Keyboard defaults to a subdued black and white color palette.
The Fallout series has had a unique retro-futuristic aesthetic for nearly its entire run: it's a strange mix of post-apocalyptic settings sprinkled with themes of 50s and 60s Americana. Android customization enthusiast Turner Davis has applied this unique aesthetic to a massively-customized homescreen based on the game's PipBoy gadget, now on display at MyColorScreen. Best of all, he's detailed the steps needed to recreate this masterpiece.
For the uninitiated, the PipBoy is a wrist-mounted computer, sort of like a mix between an Apple II and Turanga Leela's ever-present watch thingy.
Root Explorer is a solid file manager, but - surprise, surprise - it's even better for people who have rooted their phones. Back when Android 4.3 first arrived, many root enabled file managers suddenly had broken root support, but not Root Explorer. And since the functionality is already so solid, the latest update introduces a new feature some of us would consider superfluous. If you like Root Explorer, now you can make it prettier, look more integrated, or be as obnoxious as your eyes can handle without permanently rolling over backwards and staring into the darkness between your ears.
If you're in the market for a new Android virtual keyboard, you could do a lot worse than SwiftKey, especially since it's just been updated to version 4.1. In the company's ceaseless drive to improve every nook and cranny of the app they've added three shiny new themes: Regal (purple), Pitch (black) and Dusk (navy blue). In addition, both the smartphone and tablet version of the swiping, predicting, multi-language keyboard are on sale for half off.